Friday, April 10, 2009

Survived to tell the tale

Today I had my Colonoscopy. George drove me to the Harvard Vanguard office at 11:00 this morning. I was content and calm, and I had time to knit the heel of a sock while I waited to be called in. I was early, and they were a little late.

It was a very nice assembly line of nurses and doctors, treating five patients at a time. They draw the curtains and give you your own space to change in the gown. Then they hook you up with an IV of saline solution to help with dehydration, which I was very happy for. Even three hours without a sip of water is a long time for me.

I was able to chat with the nurses a little and tell them how much I appreciated them, and that I thought this was a very important screening. They were as nice as could be. I explained to the nurses that in my opinion, this screening takes a lot of preparation and study. I had to make it a priority for a whole week in order to get the thing done right. One nurse said "it is nice to hear that, some people don't even read the letter."

I must have read the six page letter they sent to me fifty times. Five days before your procedure you must...., then four days....then the day food, only Gatorade and yellow jello and clear liquids. No Advil, no iron pills, all kinds of little rules hidden in the paragraphs. I told George that if I had to follow all these rules, I wanted to do it right. I really didn't want to be refused the day of the operation because I had had a sip of coke that morning, or something stupid.

To made sure I didn't take anything by mouth, I pretty much stayed in the bedroom upstairs from the time I got home from work. The Magnesium Citrate you have to drink is awful stuff, salty, carbonated, and burns your throat going down. I had to drink 15 oz. last night and 15 oz of this horrible stuff first thing this morning at six. Lest you think you will get away with NOT doing this, they check every single detail, and I told them I wanted the gold star. I had done everything just right. Drinking that stuff was the worst part, and down right impossible without taking a slug of lemon Gatorade with it. Right now I feel like I'd rather die in the desert than drink another bottle of Gatorade.

So, with a little help from the happy juice in the IV, the procedure when down fine and then it was over. I was warm, covered up, lazily lying on my bed in my nice little curtained room. I got to stay there for 20 minutes reflecting on the rather fascinating florescent light fixture.

After a few minutes they brought me four soda crackers and my choice of drinks, which was apple juice -- both really delicious. Then they said the nicest thing, "George is outside waiting for you." Oh, heavens, thank God for George!

I feel a sense of accomplishment and I am very happy it is all over. I'm writing about this because I think Colonscopies are important screenings, and because it was a big part of my life last week. I even went without food for a day and a half, and lived to see the scale drop five pounds. Not an easy way to lose, but necessary. And they liked me so much, they want to see me again in three years. Oh, no!

Have a great day.